U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today applauded House passage of H.Res. 568, legislation she authored stating that it shall be U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, and to reject any policy of containment which would accept Iran possessing nuclear capabilities. The resolution urges increased economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran in order to compel the regime to halt its enrichment and weapons programs. The bill passed the House by a vote of 401-11.
Ros-Lehtinen spoke in support of the resolution during a House debate earlier this week. Ros-Lehtinen's remarks follow, or you may click below to view the video.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"The Iranian regime continues to pose an immediate and growing threat to the United States, to our allies, and to the Iranian people. In fact, just over the weekend, it was reported that the IAEA discovered a drawing that shows an explosives-containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear-arms-related tests. This was based on information from inside an Iranian military site.
"Iran remains the world's leading State Sponsor of Terrorism, aiding multiple groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, which continue to destabilize the Middle East, and which are responsible for the deaths of Americans.
"It was only a few months ago that U.S. officials foiled a planned attack on U.S. soil that was commissioned by the Iranian regime, and the Iranian regime is believed to have been behind the attacks against Israeli embassies that took place earlier this year. Iran also continues to sponsor violent extremist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan that have killed our men and women in uniform.
"With a nuclear weapons capability, the regime would dramatically increase its ability to threaten the United States and our allies. We are running out of time to stop the nightmare of a nuclear weapons capable Iran from becoming reality.
"Estimates from U.S. and Israeli officials indicate that Iran could develop nuclear weapons in less than one year. And even before the regime develops actual nuclear weapons, Iran may enter what Israel's Defense Minister calls a "zone of immunity," and after that point, we would have very few options left to stop Iran from going nuclear. And right now, the regime is doing all it can to run down the clock and enter that "zone of immunity.'
"The most recent set of negotiations are just another way for them to hold off Western sanctions and buy time to further their capabilities. We need to stop the regime before it possesses the capability to develop nuclear weapons, not before it makes the decision to develop nuclear weapons--because we may not know they have made that decision until it is too late. And once the regime enters that "zone of immunity' it can decide at any time to develop nuclear weapons, and we would probably not be able to stop them.
"For the Iranian regime, possession of the capability to produce a nuclear weapon would be almost as useful as actually having one. Tehran would be able to intimidate its neighbors and engage in even more threatening actions by reminding us that they could develop nuclear weapons any time the regime wanted.
"Tehran might even decide not to reveal whether or not it had developed nuclear weapons, thereby keeping the world guessing and off-balance indefinitely, all while claiming innocence. Tehran would be in the driver's seat, and the security of the United States, Israel, and our other allies would be in their hands.
"We need to make clear that containing a nuclear Iran is not an option--that nothing short of stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability is good enough.
"That is why I and Ranking Member Berman have introduced House Resolution 568, which strongly supports preventing the Iranian regime from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability; rejects any policy that would rely on efforts to "contain' a nuclear-weapons capable Iran; supports the rights and democratic aspirations of the Iranian people; and urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with a nuclear weapons capability and oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option.
"In fact, just two months ago President Obama extended the national emergency with respect to Iran declaring that the regime's activities pose "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.'
"This resolution is an important statement clarifying Congressional commitment to countering the Iranian threat. However, our focus must be on rapidly and dramatically ratcheting up sanctions--without the glaring exceptions we now have--in order to put our boot on the throat of this dangerous regime.
"We must compel the regime to permanently and verifiably dismantle its nuclear program, abandon its unconventional and ballistic missile development programs, and end its support for violent extremists.
"We do not want to look back Mr. Speaker and wish that we had heeded the warning signs. In this respect, we anxiously await the other body's strengthening and passage of companion legislation to the measures that passed the House months ago.
"We must meet our responsibilities to the American people and protect the security of our nation, our allies, and the world from this threat, a nuclear capable Iran.